The Sun, the Moon and the Stars….

I’ve been trying to teach Bern and Katelin to read.  Can I tell you how relieved I am to have two (actually three, but I’m discussing two) children?  Each as different as the sun and moon?  Can I also admit I have had moments when thoughts of slamming my head into something hard are alluring?  I am human and don’t want my naysayers to think I’m giving up or that I think this is the wrong choice for us.   But I’m also not for painting a perfect, blissful (and false) picture of endless homeschooling bliss.  That would be dishonest and that just ain’t me.

Katelin absorbs information like a sponge.  She’s quick, determined and a touch careless.  She likes to guess but she’s got good deduction skills to fall back on.  She makes me feel like HSing is easy and the only way to maximise her potential. If Katelin were my only child, I would have medals of gold cast monthly for my superior and perfect parenting skills. Downside:  She really wants to go to school so she can have more friends.

Bern is the one who makes me so tempted to resort violence.  He has poor mental stamina and the retention of a goldfish.  While I know it’s ok for 7yo’s to not be able to read (though this would be a disaster in conventional schools) I would also expect decent letter recognition!  It’s not like I haven’t been teaching him his letters in various settings etc.  He makes me feel panicky and terribly flawed.  What mother entertains thoughts of literally beating it into a child?  Sigh. Upside:  He can improvise and adapt origami planes for hours.

What am I trying to get across?  Well, here’s a little list

  1. Each child is unique and though tempting (and infinitely more convenient), we should never expect them to march to the same tune.
  2. HS is not easy and it’s not perfect.  It’s life: changeable, dynamic and a learning process.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by being unrealistic.
  3. At least half of what HS turns out to be for your family depends on you, the driving force.  If you’re flexible and realistic, you’re going to have a lot more fun.  And see a lot more of your child’s ability to learn independent of you.  If you’re rigid and too demanding, you may face disappointment in yourself and your child.

My family is different from yours and by no means is our way better than your way.  We have bad days when I feel the kids have learned nothing and we have good days when they’ve worked at their math, reading and writing.  And we have real days when I realise that I should get over myself, for every moment is a learning moment when your a kid (whether your spent it setting up a tea party for the dolls or whether your did a dozen pages of Math Mammoth.)


Syllabus Review: ClickN Read

I think ClickN Read is pretty well known as well.  It’s an online reading tutorial.  I’m still not sure how many lessons there are in total but each lesson gets progressively more difficult.  The graphics and animation are decent but the ‘teacher’, a dog named Tad is sometimes rude and annoying (somewhat like a teenager).

The children were initially wow-ed by this talking dog and while Katelin is still enthusiastic AND learning to read, Bern cannot get his head around the American accent (neutral as it is).  Again, I think Bern has issues and the program itself is decent.  I too find the American accent a bit hard to ignore.  I also think Tad reads way to quickly during the section where the children are supposed to read after him.

When I bought this, I was also hoping I could set the kids up and have 15 minutes to myself but sadly, you have to be there or at least close at hand.  I am thinking of purchasing a children”s keyboard and mouse to see if it will  make things easier as the kids have trouble locating the letters on my laptop keyboard.  Perhaps this shiny almost reflective surface is just too confusing.

All in all, I do not regret buying this.  If all my children were Katelins, ClickN Read would be perfect.  So you need to know your child and what will work best for them.

Syllabus Review: Math Mammoth

This is a very well known syllabus so I’m not going to go through the usual rigamarole of pros and cons etc.  Suffice to say, I bought it and I think it is a good syllabus to have for Math.  Bern, being Bern manages a couple of pages each sitting while Katelin will do a doz if i let her.

I like that it’s a downloadable file so you print as many copies as you need.  I also like the way it is laid out and the mederately repetitve nature of it.  In Math, practice makes perfect.  I love the free extras on the website and look forward to the Science syllabus Maria is developing.

I hated printing out the books.  I wasted a lot of paper and ended up taking it to our local print shop.  This adds $$$ to the whole endeavour.  But I am honestly too nervous to print collated pages from my printer.  Therefore, this flaw is more linked to my ineptitude that any real flaw with Math Mammoth.

If you are HSing and are not buying a complete box syllabus, the Math Mammoth is a great option.  Just be careful not to delete the emails from Maria like I accidentally did to some.